Hungary-China Trade Relationship Soaring to new Heights Firms Told

Trade

Hungary offers China diplomatic support on many fronts. Here, Minister of Culture and Innovation János Csák speaks at the Mathias Corvinus Collegium (MCC) conference “Who Will win the Technological and Economic Race: China vs United States” in Budapest on June 5.

Photo by Lajos Soós / MTI

The Hungary-China Business Meeting was held on June 9 in Budapest’s Corinthia Hotel, offering companies from both countries a chance to get to know each other better and lay the groundwork for business agreements in the future.

The meeting was also attended by a Chinese delegation, arriving in Hungary to sign several agreements with domestic businesses to promote and strengthen bilateral relations.

Li Xingqian, director general of the Foreign Trade Department of the Ministry of Commerce of China, noted in his speech that trade promotion events such as the Hungary-China Business Meeting are expected to help introduce high-quality products made in Hungary to the Chinese market.

He also invited Hungarian companies to participate in Chinese trade exhibitions, for example, the China International Import Expo and the China International Consumer Products Expo.

“We welcome Hungarian companies. We foresee a bright future for our cooperation,” Xingqian said.

A Bridge Between East and West

Adrienn Gőbel, the director general of the Department for Export Development from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, followed Xingqian on the stage. She highlighted the importance of Hungarian-Chinese economic cooperation, saying, “Our country lies in the heart of Europe, acting as a bridge between the East and the West.”

She added that the current business discussions would further expand this collaboration and open new avenues for developing economic ties.

“Hungary is China’s number one trade destination in the region. It is our eighth most important trading partner globally, with bilateral trade surpassing USD 13 billion last year, an 18% increase compared to 2020,” Gőbel told the audience.

Liu Bo, Minister-Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in Hungary, also spoke at the event, assuring the audience that continuous efforts would be made to enhance the economic and trade ties to benefit the people living in Hungary and China.

“Thanks to Hungary’s fair policies and excellent business environment, more and more Chinese companies are interested in investing here. Investments already made or announced so far are worth more than EUR 18 bln, to which another EUR 8 bln-10 bln could be added in the coming year,” he added.

Exporting Innovation

Hepa CEO Gábor Jenei argued that Hungary’s number one export product is innovation telling the audience an old proverb: “A Hungarian may enter a revolving door behind you, but he is going to leave in front. If only we had as many people as China, we would be a leading power,” he argued.

The opening was also attended by Ernő Pető, the president of ChinaCham Hungary, who remarked that the relationship between China and Hungary has been developing dynamically, highlighting the importance of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “One Belt, One Road” policy, and Hungary’s “Opening to the East” strategy.

He also expressed his delight that the China Brand Fair was held in person in June at the Hungexpo for the first time since the easing of coronavirus-related restrictions.

After the speeches and the official signing ceremony, a networking event featuring nearly 100 entrepreneurs and representatives from Hungary and China offered an opportunity to discuss business opportunities and enter negotiations regarding possible trade agreements.

Foreign Minister Szijjártó Visits Battery Conference in China

Just a day after the business meeting, Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó visited the Chinese city of Yibin, where Hungary was the guest of honor at the World Power Battery Conference.

“I’d like to express my appreciation for the fact that Hungary has been invited as a guest of honor at the World Power Battery Conference. […] We are very happy that you have picked our country,” the minister said in a video message posted on Facebook, adding that Hungary sees China as a “strategic partner,” a country from which it can benefit a lot.

In addition, he described the Hungarian government’s “Opening to the East,” which aims at creating mutually beneficial cooperation with countries in Asia, as a “great success story.” The policy has included incentives for Chinese investors to pick Hungary, with its investment-friendly environment and low corporate tax rate, for their bases in Europe, he said. The minister recalled that Chinese companies had formed the biggest group of foreign investors in Hungary in 2020 and are poised to retake the title this year.

In the video, he argued that Hungary had become a sort of “meeting point” for investors from the East and the West, pointing out that several Chinese battery makers, such as Catl, and Eve Energy, picked the country as an investment destination, adding that local investments by other big EV battery makers would be announced soon.

The investments have catapulted Hungary into fourth place in battery production globally. According to the minister, the country will rise to second upon completing the planned investments.

Szijjártó thanked Chinese investors for their trust in Hungary and the Hungarian people and said the country would continue incentivizing Chinese investors to expand existing capacities or bring new factories to Hungary.

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of June 16, 2023.

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